AUGUSTA — A lawyer for two Maine women who are suing utilities over billing practices wants to seek a class-action certification.

The Portland Press Herald reports tens of thousands of customers could be added to the action if the federal lawsuit is certified as a class-action lawsuit. Attorney Tom Hallett says they’d probably seek at least $35 million.

The lawsuit says Electricity Maine and other providers used fraud and deception to enroll 200,000 households and small businesses with the promise of substantial cost savings. The plaintiffs say customers were enrolled at artificially low rates and then transferred with little notice to long-term rates that exceeded the standard offer rate.

An attorney for one of the providers has filed a motion to dismiss, saying the claims are without merit.

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